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Matt Damon: A "Real Somebody"

Matt Damon is the archetypal '90s heartthrob. Not only is he a good actor with movie star looks; he also wrote a screenplay in slacker style (on the side, in his spare time) with his best friend Ben Affleck. Together the two twenty-something stars bagged a "Best Original Screenplay" Oscar in 1998 for Good Will Hunting, their first time out of the gate. The Talented Mr. Ripley, based on the 1955 novel by Patricia Highsmith, stars Damon as the title character in a film that many have described as a modern noir, and more than a little Hitchcockian in style.

The Capricorn Who Labored Behind The Scenes

If we hearken back to the late 1940s, Patricia Highsmith (a Capricorn) was writing scenarios for Superman comics. Superman, like many of the characters Highsmith would later go on to create in her fiction, is the consummate double. Bumbling Clark Kent is an everyman who never seems to measure up to his super powerful alter ego. By 1949, Highsmith was ready to write a serious piece of fiction that dealt with her own concept of "the double." Fellow writer Truman Capote (a Libra) used his influence to get her accepted into Yaddo, the renowned writers colony in New York.

While at Yaddo, Highsmith wrote her first novel, Strangers on a Train, about a dangerous fellow without a purpose in life who pitches the idea of "trading murders" with a successful man he meets while traveling. The book "made" Highsmith, especially after Alfred Hitchcock (a Leo) bought the rights to the novel and made it into a well-known suspense film.

The Balance of Power

In 1955, Highsmith published The Talented Mr. Ripley, a variation on the double theme, but this tale was much deeper, more subtle and more plausible. The book is the story of Tom Ripley, a poor young outsider with many talents, little money and a burning desire for the status and material pleasures of wealth. When he happens to meet Mr. Greenleaf, a rich shipping magnate, his luck changes. He is sent to Italy to bring Greenleaf's son Dickie back home to the States. Once in Italy, Ripley slowly becomes obsessed with leading Dickie's life—truly "the good life"—with all the freedom and money a young man of good taste can enjoy. I won't give away the plot, but the obsession naturally turns more and more destructive.

Already, one can see the themes of Ripley as astrologically quite resonant. The desire for the superficial pleasures of life can be described as the shadow or dark (noir!) side of the sign Libra, which is symbolized by the scales (the balance of power). Evolved Libras possess many artistic talents and social graces, like Damon and his co-star in the film, Libra Gwyneth Paltrow. But unevolved Libras may want all the beauty of life at their feet without having to work for it.

There are Capricornian themes at work in the Ripley tale as well. Although one of the best traits of the sign of the goat is the ability to work patiently, and with integrity and persistence, to achieve success and status in the world, unevolved Capricorns may just be concerned with the rewards: power and prestige.

The Four Elements Connecting Ripley: Air (Libra), Earth (Capricorn), Fire (Leo) and Water (Scorpio)

It's interesting that Damon's Moon is in Capricorn, the same sign as writer Highsmith's Sun and also as Jude Law’s Sun. (Law plays "Dickie Greenleaf" in the film.) Just as you can rub two crayons together on a piece of paper and make a third color, if you take the characteristics of Libra and Capricorn and put them together you might come up with the sign Leo. After all, Libras are also known to be the most partnership-oriented sign, and Capricorns one of the proudest and the best able to lead. Leo synthesizes all those characteristics, and adds a touch of its own drama and warmth to the mix.

It seems fitting then, that Capricorn novelist Highsmith was able to rise to fame through her partnership with Leo Alfred Hitchcock, and Damon was able to reach his greatest success (so far) with Leo Ben Affleck. Both Hitchcock and Affleck happen to be Leos with Moon in Scorpio, the sign that is most associated with a "dark side."

Jude Law also has Mars (the traditionally "male" feeling planet of passion and aggression) in dark, sexy, secretive Scorpio, exactly conjunct (in the same sign and degree as) Matt Damon's Neptune, the planet of illusion and also the planet most modern astrologers associate with film. The astrological connections and themes in the Ripley film do seem to be very Neptunian. Neptune often gives us the feeling that there are no boundaries between us. Sounds just like the theme of Ripley—the idea that one person can take over another person's identity.

As a final footnote, in 1995, just as early work on the Ripley film began, writer Highsmith died, at age 74. She left her entire estate to the writers colony Yaddo, where Libra Truman Capote first helped her to jump-start her career.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jill Dearman is the author of the gay best sellers Queer Astrology For Men and Queer Astrology For Women (St. Martins Griffin/1999). She has been professionally practicing astrology for twelve years and currently writes horoscopes for the national magazines Twist and Girlfriends as well as numerous papers syndicated via Q Syndicate. She has written about subjects from astrology to literature to film and theater in Mademoiselle, Publishers Weekly and HX. An excerpt from her upcoming novel, The Great Bravura, was featured in Best Lesbian Erotica 2000(Cleis Press). She also writes and produces films. The Village Voice called Dearman a "risk surfing playwright" whose work "shocks and rocks." She is a 1999/2000 artist in residence at HERE in New York City.

Jill is also the author of LoveCycles, an email-delivered guide to love and relationships based on individual birth data, available in the Shop@StarIQ.

Visit the author's website.

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For more information about Jill Dearman, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Jill Dearman:

  • The Bedroom Astrologer 11-15-00   4/5/2014
  • The Bedroom Astrologer 11-1-00   3/8/2014
  • These Men are from Venus   10/5/2013
  • Brendan Fraser: More Than Just a Pretty Face   4/27/2001
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar: Every Girl's Heroine   4/25/2001
  • Geoffrey Rush: The Moody Marquis   3/23/2001
  • Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt: Still Peaking   1/30/2001
  • Kate Winslet's Passionate Choices   12/29/2000
  • Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria: What Does This Woman Want?   12/5/2000
  • Bounce Star Ben Affleck: The Ball is in His Court   12/1/2000
  • Charlie's Angels: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu   11/25/2000
  • Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger: Dr. Seuss Meets Nurse Betty   11/17/2000
  • Dylan on Dylan   11/10/2000
  • Bono's Return to Roots of Rock   11/4/2000
  • Geena Davis and Bette Midler: Big Stars on the Small Screen   10/27/2000
  • Janet Jackson's Down-to-Earth Planets   10/21/2000
  • Gloria Steinem: Happy At Last   10/14/2000
  • The Strange Musical Path of Bjork   9/26/2000
  • Picture Perfect Couple: Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston   9/15/2000
  • Harrison and Michelle: A Return to Classic Hollywood   9/8/2000
  • Drew Barrymore: Happily Ever After At Last?   9/1/2000
  • Meg Ryan in the Middle   8/18/2000
  • Mark Wahlberg: Marky Mark is Back   8/12/2000
  • The Return of Cat Stevens   8/4/2000
  • Lou Reed and The Smashing Pumpkins: Piscean Themes   7/29/2000
  • Patti Smith: Her Gung Ho Comeback   7/21/2000
  • Rupert Everett: The Ultimate Gemini   7/7/2000
  • Angelina and Billy Bob: Hollywood's Mod, Odd Couple   6/30/2000
  • The Virgin Suicides: New Hollywood Meets Old Hollywood   6/2/2000
  • Opposites Attract On Screen   5/26/2000
  • Beatty and Bening's New Baby   5/19/2000
  • Aquarian Psycho   5/12/2000
  • Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez   5/5/2000
  • Chloe Sevigny's Scorpionic Exploration of Sexuality   3/25/2000
  • Water Signs Rule the Cider House   3/23/2000
  • Aries Grrrl Warriors: Where Will They Go From Here?   2/18/2000

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